French Appeals Court Restores Marriage in Virginity Case

A French appeals court in Douai has overturned a lower tribunal of Lille from April 1st 2008 that had annulled the marriage of two Muslims because the bride misrepresented her virginity. The marriage was annulled when the court held that the woman had lied over what was considered “an essential quality,” and therein the marriage contract was invalid.

In the wake of outrage expressed by feminists and human rights activists, the court ruled that virginity “is not an essential quality in that its absence has no repercussion on matrimonial life.” Others expressed concern that the original ruling was an affront to France’s fiercely protected secularism. In a petition sent to French Justice Minister Rachida Dati in June, 150 members of the European Parliament said an annulment in the case would “only comfort fundamentalists in their archaic fight whilst the main barrier against this fanaticism should precisely be the law.”

The new ruling means that the marriage, which neither husband nor wife wishes to continue, stands. A court official aptly noted, “We’re back to the situation before the first ruling.”

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